Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Backwards Walk

I'm working on my faults and cracks/ filling in the blanks and gaps/ and when I write them out they don't make sense/ I need you to pencil in the rest... ---Frightened Rabbit, "Backwards Walk"

One of my faults: I don't learn things the first time. Exhibit A: Me ordering a tall caramel latte at 8 pm. You would think I would have learned not to do this after Sunday night. If I stayed up all night, I could probably still have stuff to do.

I became the teacher who uses threats to get students to do things yesterday. I'm not proud of it, and quite frankly I hope that this was one of the few times that I will ever have to do so. It wasn't a threat of, "If you don't do this, I'm going to take this away", it was a threat of "well, if you don't do your homework, I would be happy to inform your parents at parent-teacher conferences the reason why you have a zero in the gradebook for this assignment, even though you had plenty of time to work on it." And while this got the student to do the homework, I don't think I earned any respect. Teaching is about mutual respect, and well, I don't think I'm being effective in this way with a particular student. I'm trying to wrap my brain around how to do this.

One of my faults: I can't let things go. I can't help it, I think I'm genetically wired to be this way. A very wise friend of mine reminded me that the next time I see my students, anything that happened will have been forgotten. But I can't let go of the fact that this kid doesn't respect me. to quote the great Michael Scott, "Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."

Another fault: I procrastinate. I'm finding that it is a million times easier if I am not at home when I am trying to get things done. If I'm at home, I'm constantly getting distracted-needing to unload the dishwasher, re-organize my closet, my desk, my drawers, what have you. Funny how it only took until my senior year of college for me to realize that studying at home isn't the best place for me to be productive. This CANNOT happen when student teaching rolls around. Procrastination is a no-no.

Another fault, a deadly combo with procrastination: I over-book myself. At the beginning of the semester, I was working 4 week nights and taking night class on the other one. I left no time for anything else involving school or teaching, let alone relaxing. Thankfully I cut back on work, but now that leaves me with less funds to have some play time or save up.

I feel like I can use some of my flaws to my advantage, if I channel them properly. Entering into the realm of adulthood, I feel like I'm doing this backwards walk, where I discover more about myself and try to use it to my advantage, and it only hurts me in the end. I'm doing this dance with myself, trying to figure out how to play up my strengths and minimize my weaknesses. And as I become more of an adult, I'm realizing how much I've learned about myself over the last year, which in some ways is great. But I never shut my brain off, more particularly my "teacher brain". My children are screwed because everything will have to be a learning experience, or a "meta moment". I'm sure they will probably hate me until they reach the age of 25.

Sigh. This was an all-over-the-place post. I just really needed to get it all out there. Back to something I'm unmotivated to do and will therefore most likely procrastinate, causing me to overbook myself later, and I'll be mad at myself and won't let it go, but heaven forbid I learn from this.

Monday, September 27, 2010


One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. ---Eleanor Roosevelt

It is currently 1:05 am on Sunday night/Monday morning. I will never drink coffee at 8:30 pm if I want to get a good night's rest. I am sure that if I tried to lie down, I could fall asleep if I really focused. But my mind is just completely all over the place at the moment.

I made a choice on Friday, expressing my philosophy, as the wonderful Eleanor Roosevelt states in the opening quote. I'm still thinking about it, even though voices of experience from those I admire tell me that it won't matter in the morning when I see the students again. It's just something I can't switch off.

Friday was a squirrelly day for the students. They were restless, most were in bad moods. I could tell that my partner and I were going to have difficulty keeping their attention. We did our best, often having to ask them to stop and pay attention so that they would have enough time to work on things. One student in particular, could not do this. Every time I turned around, he was poking another student, moving to distract the others, or just plain talking. I think I was coming across as the more timid practicum teacher of the two of us, so I felt I had to do something that would earn their respect. I stopped mid-sentence and said, "(Name), move to the back desk, now please."

You should have seen some of their faces. Some had to pick up their jaws off their desks.

I have been told by many an adult that it is much better to come on strong and pull back, than to try to be laid back and then demand order. I think that the students just viewed us as a type of substitute teacher, and therefore felt it was okay to test us. Looking back on it, I think there were a number of ways I could have handled it differently, especially because the gentleman did nothing but pout for the rest of the period. I felt bad after that, because this kid is a good kid. He just needs more creative ways to exert his energy. I need to think about this a lot more when I'm planning lessons. They all need more creative ways to exert their energy. My CT told me that it wasn't a bad thing what I did, but I still feel bad for calling this kid out. I'm sure when I see this kid in a few hours he won't even remember it, but it was my first time attempting to discipline.

I don't like being the type of person who has to take action for that sort of thing. I guess it's something I have to get over. My CT had to kick a kid out of class later that period, so if its any consolation to myself, I didn't have to deal with that. I need to become more fierce without being overly authoritarian. It's just a balance I will have to strike.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The question isn't who is going to let me, it's who is going to stop me. ---Ayn Rand

Today was a great day for practicum teachers throughout the land. Namely, ME! In my last post, I discussed how my practicum partner and I were kind of in a rut for awhile with our cooperating teacher. Well, tomorrow, we are going to be teaching our first lesson, which was a last minute thing, so we kind of had to throw it together in a pinch. But still...TEACHING. Finally.

There is a student in our class whom my practicum partner and I felt was gifted, but we really didn't see our CT doing much with him. He is constantly finished before everyone else, and usually puts his head on his desk, rarely participating. He's new to the school too, so we felt like he probably wasn't getting a whole lot of social interaction. He's one of the only As in the class as well. My partner and I were wary to "step on our CT's toes" in this matter, but we finally pushed enough in our planning periods for our CT to take action. My brilliant partner had the students fill out a survey, where he indicated how bored he was with the class as well as his interests-including the mass amounts of reading he does. This morning, we relayed his survey to our CT and she pulled him out of class after he was finished with his test and asked him if he wanted to be in diff classes next semester, and he said yes.

Although I'm not entirely sure if our CT was going to take action from the beginning, I feel a major victory for this kid. And I have a growing list of books for him to read in the meantime. I'm geeking out making it for him at the moment. I hope he doesn't get scared of me in my excitement for him. :)

After today, I feel completely energized for the rest of the work we have for the semester. THIS is what we have been waiting to put in practice for all of our college careers. It's finally happening!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stuck in Limbo

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. ---Thomas Paine

I love my practicum partner. I love my class. I love the high school that I'm in. And I'm itching to get started, to be up in front of the students. The problem? It's not happening. And everyone else in the program has at least taught something or planned something. My practicum partner and I have not done anything. Yesterday, our CT turned to us and asked to turn off the fan next to us. The day before that she asked what the date was. We've made a seating chart, and that's about it.

We met with our professor to see if this was normal, and apparently it's not. More investigation is under way, but there is a potential for us to be moved, which I want as a last resort. Even though I have not had much interaction with the students individually, I've grown attatched to them and I have so many ideas for them. I'm hoping that once we are able to get in front of the class, it will get better. My partner and I have made efforts to connect with the students, but because we haven't been incorporated into the lessons (even the planning), the kids sometimes give us funny looks when we pipe up or say hi to them in the hallways, which is a little disheartening.

I'm ready to be that teacher up in front of the room, putting my ideas out there. This particular group of kids needs a lot of ways to channel their energy, and I have some plans I think would be effective, but for now my partner and I just have to wait until the CT is ready to step aside and hand over the reigns.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Books of Obligation

A man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. ---Mark Twain

I have a teeny tiny confession to make. I have never read The Scarlett Letter. Nor have I read The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, or O Pioneers!. I hated The Pearl as well as Great Expectations, and I've tried to read Catch-22 so many times that I'm sure I have a record going somewhere. And I'm supposed to be teaching English to the young minds of tomorrow?

I've often felt guilty and underqualified because I have not read "the list" of books that are being taught in our schools. I wish I could change it all. Because I think that there are plenty of books out there that are just as good (if not better, but I can't say for sure, considering I've never read them) as those books I've listed above. I love to read, but I don't want to waste my time reading books I don't like. Those books are books I've filed under the "get to eventually out of obligation" pile. Can't we give teachers a chance to incorporate books they enjoy too? In practicum, we are reading the same short stories that I read as a sophomore. I can tell my junior and freshman siblings exactly what they will read in their English classes at my high school, because it hasn't changed.

Also, where is the time? If I'm supposed to be reading professional development books, the books my students are reading, and young adult literature to recommend to my students, how do I stretch my day to at least 30 hours? I suppose this is something that teachers figure out with time. Or I cram it all in to June, July, and August. Do books on tape count for anything?

For now, I suppose, I should stop whining and order myself a copy of A Separate Peace. Maybe I will get to it by May. I have a stack of obligatory books on my nightstand already.

Books I'd like to include in my classroom some day:
1. The Color Purple
2. The Things They Carried
3. Bastard Out of Carolina
4. Me Talk Pretty One Day
5. Stone Butch Blues
6. Atonement
7. Angela's Ashes
8. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
9. The Great Divorce
10. The Namesake

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ---Ralph Waldo Emerson

I certainly began my day serenely. Seriously, I did. I had a good night's sleep, my homework all done, my outfit all picked out, everything. I took my time eating, getting ready, and boy, it was a GREAT hair day. (I've had maybe ten of those in my life, so it really does count). I put on my sassy high heels...and that's where it went downhill.

I will NEVER wear 3-inch heels to teach. That is the first thing I learned today. Not only did we go on a tour of the school (OWWWW), but I also disrupted every single classroom with its doors open as I walked by, attempting to be graceful but occasionally looking like a fool in my size 11 feet, clacking away. I thought I was going to be a perceived as a woman in power-nah, just the chick with loud shoes.

The practicum experience itself was fabulously refreshing. In the teaching classes, we've talked so much about teaching literature and the world and I envisioned this amazing connection with my students-like they would immediately understand and appreciate my wisdom. Then we did a reading partnership where kids couldn't even comprehend basic readings, which was completely disheartening. But these kids get it. They act like they don't care and they put on this guise of indifference, but they do understand the reading and they can apply what they learned to the reading. It was a huge sigh of relief for me.

I ruined dinner tonight... but I'm going to pass the buck and blame it on a bad recipe. Thankfully I have a very accomodating boyfriend who kept telling me he would have eaten the horribly bland food I had prepared as I gathered my things to grab a quick bite to eat before night class. Note to self: if I want chicken carbonara, I'll just go to Olive Garden. Next week: Lemon Chicken Pasta Toss? Or ordering pizza. Either works.

We got our applications to student teach today. Talk about overwhelming. Thankfully, I was too much of a weenie to ever put myself at risk for anything getting me in trouble, so my background check will be squeaky clean. As for the rest of it, well, that's going to take some serious sit-down time and consideration. Then our professor talked about applying for jobs as early as February or March. HOLY COW. Am I ready to be that much of a grown up? Can't my mommy just do it for me? Guess not. I DID set up an Internet router all by myself today, so maybe I'm more grown up than I thought.

Well, it's 12:32 AM. I have to be in 6.5 hours, and Lord knows I do not function normally with less than 6 hours of sleep. So it's best for me to retire so I can begin my day serenely once more.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Into the Unknown

Do one thing every day that scares you. ---Eleanor Roosevelt

Okay, Ms. Roosevelt. I'm not sure that I did anything today that scared me, but I'm sure tomorrow I will have had enough. I begin my practicum tomorrow.

I'm not really so sure what I am afraid of- it's not like I'm teaching tomorrow. I think the thing that I am afraid of is this moment of "this is it!" Since freshman year of college, I've thought about where I would end up doing practicum and student teaching, what kind of kids I would be teaching, what I would have kids call me, what I would wear, etc. (Trust me, I have lots of cute teacher clothes, so we are covered there). I feel underqualified. I feel like I am teaching my younger siblings or something, because really, I was just in their shoes a few years ago. Hopefully that makes me better for this reason.

Well, it is almost 11pm...almost past my bed time. I need to get used to this whole being responsible-not-pulling-all-nighters thing I'm so used to after three former years of college. You know what else I did today before I had to go to work? Homework. I've always been a night owl...and NOT morning person. Good thing I have a great coffeemaker and some deeelish coffee to look forward to tomorrow morning when the rooster crows!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. ---Inigo Montoya

Hello, my name is Lauren and I am a blog-a-holic. I love reading blogs. I've always wanted to have one, even if I felt it was a little self-indulgent. I wasn't sure what I would even write about, until a good friend of mine started one last year on her first year of teaching. So, me in my copy-cat ways am beginning one too. While I am still in the pre-service stage of teaching, I am starting a practicum in a few days and then student-teaching next semester. I know I have a lot to learn, and I hope to document my triumphant successes, my utter failures, and everything in between. Quite frankly, I am shaking in my boots as I begin this stage of my professional life.

So who am I? I am a coffee-drinking, book-reading dog lover who is a perpetual nerd, by choice. I geek out on a daily basis, and I am perfectly OK with it. I carry my life in my planner. I serve tables four or five days a week to get me through college. I am impatient. I am tenderhearted (seriously, I will cry at the drop of a hat). I love George Clooney. I am fiercely loyal to the people and things I love. I love good food, and am learning how to make it. I love deep conversations. I love a good line from a book...perhaps I will write my own someday. In the meantime, this will have to do.

I'm not sure where this will take me, but it is a definite start.